While Avanti IsoWhey Sports was again the standout team in the National Road Series (NRS) for 2016, mobius Future Racing emerged as a credible challenger to the Tasmanian team as it finished second on the overall team classification and placed two riders in the individual standing.
Former Australian U23 national road champion Ben Dyball was the standout rider for mobius Future Racing in 2016 with his Tour of Tasmania victory the crowing achievement of its season. Dyball finished the season as the fifth ranked rider in the NRS with 18-year-old Robert Stannard impressing to finish in sixth place overall. Standard also earned a call up to the World Championships, representing New Zealand in the men's junior time trial and road race events. Teammate James Fouche was also selected for the Worlds in Doha to ensure mobius Future Racing on the biggest cycling stage possible.
For mobius Future Racing team manager Tom Petty, the 2016 season exceeded external expectations, but there was no surprise internally for the team.
"We weren't tipped to come second, no one talked about us before the year started so we have achieved quite a lot compared to what people expected," Petty told Cyclingnews of the team's second season in the NRS.
While there is ongoing uncertainty over the future direction of the NRS as the 17-month Cycling Australia review into the domestic racing scene continues, Petty explains that he has created a structure which is largely immune from the instability and ensures a solid foundation for continued success.
"We will go into our third season with almost exactly the same sponsors. When we started we sort of created a business model that showed a specific return on investment, which was prearranged, and we've achieved that with all of our sponsors," Petty said. "For example, mobius are a marketing and communication company and we've had our other sponsors go to mobius for marketing work and website building. That provides a return on their investment. By showing simple business cases on how we've helped sponsors generate business, as well as the addition sponsor benefits. I think we are pretty stable going into 2017. It hasn't really affected us."
With a sound business model in place and currently ranked second on the NRS, Petty adds that he and team won't be resting on their laurels for 2017.
"We are ambitious. First and foremost, our focus is to try and improve what we are doing and try and be the best team in Australia in the domestic series. We won't be a Continental team in 2017 but we applied for some UCI starts for 2017," he said of the future team plans. "Our sponsors are all New South Wales based, there is not a whole lot of additional benefit for us to go and race in Asia. We have created some partnerships in France to give our riders exposure to a higher level of racing over there. We are trying to keep our focus on what our major objective is and what we are trying to achieve and go for that. Maybe we'll go Continental in 2018."
Petty is currently finalising his team roster for the 2017 and while he would ideally like to have Dyball racing in the blue, white and black kit, he is hoping that isn't that case.
"It's to be confirmed that Ben will stay with the team in 2017. We are waiting on a pro contract for him and we are hoping it comes off. He deserves it but, it's just one of those things were you are only as old as people think you are," he said. "In cycling, being 27 years old is a little confronting for some teams. If he doesn't sign a pro deal, I think he'll be back with us. I know he'd rather stay with us than move on to another NRS team.
"Most of our roster will stay the same for 2017. We have had some young riders, our Kiwi riders, who have come up quite a lot over the last year and that is almost like a new signing in itself being able to retain the quality of rider that we have had this year."
The 'Kiwi' riders that Petty talks of are the trio of Stannard, Fouche and Alex West with high praise for all three.
"Rob has just turned 18, James is 18 and Alex West is 19 and these are three guys, who in my view, have everything. They have exceptional attitude, they are so appreciative, and some of the loveliest kids I have worked with. They are driven and do everything off the bike," Petty said. "They eat oranges for desert, they are just so focused and committed. In a heartbeat, they will drill themselves to help someone else, and deliver if you are riding for them. They are complete riders and each one of those riders, I see eventually going pro. It's a privilege to have such riders riding for us."
Like Dyball, Petty is hoping Stannard can continue his career at a higher level in 2017 after the New Zealander had the opportunity to showcase his capabilities in the NRS this season.
"I watched Rob Standard as a first year U19 and I was blown away that not one NRS team wanted to take him," he said. "It was bizarre to me. Him and James were good friends and I brought Rob onto the team and having the exposure in the NRS has really got Rob's name out there and I wouldn't be surprised if he get's an exceptional opportunity as a result of the year that he has had."
The 2017 season for mobius Future Racing will kick off at the Australian and New Zealand national championships in January with Petty hoping the team can then secure a start at the UCI 2.2 NZ Cycling Classic.